I’m not Singing for My Big Mac

From Groundhog Day to Valentine’s Day McDonalds customers can win a free meal by literally ‘singing for their supper’, or calling their Mom and say ‘I love you’ or other super awkward ways to “Pay with Lovin”. After ordering their meal the customer is randomly selected ‘ that’s right the super extroverted and introverted are in the same spotlight or headlight depending on your personality, and if they perform the task offered up by the Service Manager – whose title is now… ‘The Lovin Lead’ (I am not making this up) they bag their McDonalds meal for free.

I must ask… What are they thinking?

I have to imagine that they got swept away with the possibility of launching their own Water Bucket Challenge and with it the free earned media from thousands if not millions of viral videos populating an Omni Channel Universe. Happy and delighted consumers singing and dancing their way through McDonalds; and then in turn the entire population of America stampeding through the Golden Arches as they hoped for their 15 megs of fame, and a free Big Mac and Fries. They must of thought this big because they bet this big including their Super Bowl Ad buy on the power and potential of this idea.

However there are three reasons why their Pay with Lovin promotion is flawed.

Number one: #Bashtags

Mass brands #hashtags are a magnet for #bashtags and social media detractors. No one should know this more than McDonalds whose effort at transparency in the past three years talking about their supply chain ‘Mythbusters’, or asking for their consumer for #McdStories which quickly became #McDHorrorStories as the campaign was hijacked by detractors and social media anarchists.

Here are a sample:

– Dude, I used to work at McDonald’s. The #McDStories I could tell would raise your hair.” (via Twitter)

– One time I walked into McDonalds and I could smell Type 2 diabetes floating in the air and I threw up. #McDStories (via Twitter)

– These #McDStories never get old, kinda like a box of McDonald’s 10 piece Chicken McNuggets left in the sun for a week (via Twitter)

Number Two: Execution

Ray Kroc, the Founder of McDonalds might be rolling in his grave over mechanics of this promotion. We must remember that he built his business on four key pillars – Quality, Value, Cleanliness, and Service and that platform served him well as he scaled from the first burger to over 100 billion sold before his death. He understood McDonalds limitations – a chain menu offering versus a local hand crafted burger and his strengths – consistency at a great price point.

“Pay with Lovin” might looks great on a well produced ad but unravels like a kid testing the spring on their Slinky when you roll it out to your minimum wage employees. I can promise you that motivating someone to hand out a Monopoly scratch card and promotional tray board is a much, much easier ask than asking your employee to ask a stranger to dance for their Sundae in front of other strangers.

Number Three: Off Brand

In their hay day I could see Club Med customers singing “Hands Up” as they sweated off their third Pina Colada of the morning. I can also see an Ivy League college demand and get superb pageantry from their band members, but McDonalds? Their consumers go there for inexpensive gut fill, not the experience, and most of their employees work to live, not live to work.

Armchair Quarterback

It’s easy for me to play armchair quarterback but the reality is that this campaign, in fact any marketing campaign at this time isn’t the answer for what ails McDonalds. It’s a best a Band-Aid on a festering wound.

McDonalds is facing some serious headwinds. Their revenue and same store sales have been in a free fall – declining in the last five quarters. They are struggling to digest the inflation in their supply chain, driven by rising food costs with their inability to escape their primary traffic driver – their “Dollar Menu” and More.

In addition McDonalds is trying to be all things to all people that few if any brands on this planet can succeed with. They must make a strategic decision. They can either become the Wal-Mart of fast food or be the place where people can buy consistent food cheap. This means getting back to their roots, a much simpler menu offering which can be executed faster, better and more efficiently to drive down costs, or they must trade up to the emerging Fast Casual category where brands like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Culvers, Bruxie or Panera Bread play – by responding to consumers desire for healthier, more adventurous and personalized menus that in turn command a higher guest check.

They need to pick one or another but whatever they do I encourage them in the meantime not to ask their consumer to sing for their supper so they won’t have to swallow a lot of angry and irate social media.

Tony Chapman spent 30 years owning and operating Advertising Agencies and Consumer Research firms. Today he spends his days as a Motivational Speaker, contributing to the conversation in mainstream and social media and by offering clients a fresh pair of eyes for their go to market strategies. You can reach Tony at (www.TonyChapmanReactions) or on twitter @TonyChapman.

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